Best Beer: Inspired Unemployed in Federal Court Battle

A man who owns a popular brand of beer with a pair of comedians famous for creating social media skits has denied in court that his design is based on another brand.

A federal court in Australia will have to decide whether The Inspired Unemployed’s Better Beer is causing market confusion along with Brick Lane’s Sidewinder.

Larrikins Jack Steele and Matt Ford collaborated with Torquay Beverage Company and Mighty Craft to release a highly successful low carb beer in October 2021.

The zero-carb craft beer was the brainchild of Nick Cogger of Torquay Beverage Co, but each of the comedians owns a 20 percent stake in the company.

A few months after the release of Better Beer, Brick Lane filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Australia alleging that the influencers’ beer “gave false, misleading or misleading representations” at launch.

Brick Lane Brewing, whose shareholders include Billy Slater, Dan Carter, Eddie McGuire and Mick Molloy, filed a lawsuit in December.

The company claims that consumers will be confused that their product Sidewinder Hazy Pale and Better Beer are somehow related and are seeking corrective advertising and damages.

The trial began on Tuesday and Mr Cogger, general manager of Torquay Beverage Company and Better Beer, testified.

He told the court that Better Beer began the design process in January 2021, months before the Sidewinder hit the market.

Brick Lane’s attorney, Justine Beaumont, showed Cogger some of the evidence he presented, in which he called Brick Lane a “key competitor” in the market.

“You really looked at Brick Lane as a competitor,” Ms Beaumont said.

Mr. Kogger said he does not see it as a competitive company, but rather as a “final product”.

Miss Beaumont continued to press Mr. Cogger.

“When you were designing Better Beer, you kept a close eye on Brick Lane,” she said.

He replied: “We wanted to play against popular products like Furphy and James Squire. We said there were only three players in this category and Brick Lane was one of them.”

Ms. Beaumont led Mr. Cogger to another page of evidence, which showed the briefing Mr. Cogger sent to the designer, which again listed Brick Lane in the “competition set”.

“We are pretty much saying that the entire market is our competitor,” Mr. Kogger said.

“To be honest, I wish we had more competition.”

The court was told that Better Beer’s Instagram handle was unavailable when the brand’s marketing plan began.

But because the comedy duo were “so well known” on Instagram, they managed to connect with someone “high profile” on the platform.

“My business associates are pretty well known and the person in question is high on Instagram, which is basically how we got access to Better Beer that day,” Mr. Cogger said.

Brick Lane managing director Paul Bowker sat at the back of the room while Mr Cogger testified.

Earlier in the trial, Ms Beaumont told the court that her client’s brand was heavily dependent on the “characteristic curved stripes” of Sidewinder cans and packaging.

“Sidewinder Hazy Pale has distinctive curved stripes of blue, organ and yellow, as well as an off-white background,” said Ms Beaumont.

Ms Beaumont told the court that Sidewinder was involved in sales and marketing in the period leading up to the launch of Better Beer in July 2021.

By this time, she said, consumers “recognized that this outfit was related to Sidewinder.”

“The emphasis is on the jar stripes in the tile and color scheme,” Ms Beaumont said.

She told the court that the brand also issued a press release on July 21 and more than 300 bus advertisements featuring Sidewinder beer were installed.

Ed Heary QC, acting on behalf of Better Beer and its owners, told the court that an ASE announcement dated 26 July 2021 announced that the product would hit stores in October of that year.

On the same day that the ASX was announced, Mr Khiri told the court that five articles had been posted on various news outlets as well as social media pages of influencers.

While Better Beer is not supposed to copy Sidewinder, Mr. Hiry said it was absurd that the two products would confuse consumers.

“If there’s one thing you’ll remember, it’s the name.” If you ever want to find him again, you’ll need a name,” Hiri told the court.

The trial continues before Judge Angus Stewart.

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